Most Floridians are making their last minute preparations for Hurricane Irma and protecting their property from potential damage. In addition to having enough batteries, flashlights, bottled water, food, medications, and pet supplies, you want to make sure your important documents are in a safe, waterproof and easy to access location. This includes your homeowners insurance policy and flood insurance policy. If you only have a hard copy of your policy, make pictures or scan the policy and save it to the cloud.

Now is also a good time to familiarize yourself on what your policy covers and what you are required to do before and after the storm. Here are some key sections you should review carefully:

Declarations Page:

  • Be aware of the limits you have for dwelling coverage and contents (personal property) coverage. Dwelling coverage pertains to the actual structure of your home. Contents (Personal property) coverage is for the items in your home. Know if you have actual cash value or replacement cost coverage. If you have loss of use or additional living expense coverage, this may cover items such as food to hotel rooms if the storm renders your home inhabitable.
  • Another important item on the Declarations Page is the deductible amount. On average, the hurricane deductible is 2 percent of your home’s coverage. I previously discussed hurricane deductibles in Florida Hurricane Deductibles.

Duties in the Event of Loss:

  • Review the entire section of your policy called “Duties After Loss”
  • If you fail to follow provisions in this section, the insurance company might refuse to pay your claim.
  • Notice to your insurance carrier is one of the first things you will want to do since it is a post-loss condition. Take the time now to have your insurance company or agent’s telephone number handy. Most insurance carriers have toll-free numbers.
  • Make sure your insurance company has your up to date contact information, including your cell phone number.
  • As soon as possible, begin making temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Most policies contain a post-loss condition requiring the insured to “[t]ake the following steps: (1) Protect the property from further damage; (2) Make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect the property; (3) Keep an accurate record of repair expense.” Save all receipts for repairs.

Best wishes to all in Irma’s path, especially my South Florida friends.